Bror Leonard Grondal Papers, 1908-1974

Overview of the Collection

Grondal, Bror Leonard, 1889-1974
Bror Leonard Grondal Papers
1908-1974 (inclusive)
1945-1974 (bulk)
3 cubic ft. (3 boxes)
Collection Number
2358 (Accession No. 2358-001)
Professor of forestry at the University of Washington and a consultant to the forest products industry.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Open to all users. Records stored offsite; advance noticed required for use.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Bror Leonard Grondal was born in Round Rock, Texas, in 1889. He was raised in the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas, where his father, Bror G. Grondal, had a photography studio. After graduating from Bethany College in 1908, Grondal came to the University of Washington to pursue his graduate studies. He received his graduate degrees and became a faculty member.

A professor of forestry at the University of Washington from 1913-1959, Grondal was one of the founders of the modern wood products research field. He lectured at the Crown Zellerbach Paper School between 1945-1958 and was a consultant to various lumber companies. He was an early associate of the University of Washington College of Forestry (later called the College of Forest Resources), and he founded the National Forest Products Research Society. As the director of the Forest Products laboratory at the University of Washington, he shepherded a great many students who did vital studies in the early days of the forest industry, including one who became a UW president, Dr. Henry Schmitz.

Grondal's pioneering work in the forest products industry led to important innovation and expansion in this growing and vital part of the Pacific Northwest economy. His research on uses of the west coast hemlock, once thought of as a "weed tree," enhanced the paper pulp market. In the 1950s he became the technical director of the Seattle office of Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory, which tested wood products.

Having majored in chemistry as an undergraduate, Prof. Grondal was interested in the various glues and nails that might work best in plywood, and as a result of his research, the plywood industry developed and prospered. He worked as a consulting engineer doing product and marketing research for the red shingle industry, and developed and carried through programs to improve methods for kiln-drying lumber. This was a crucial factor in the use of hemlock, which was later specified for use in airplane construction during World War II.

Grondal was also an early expert in ultraviolet microphotography. In 1923 he used it to examine the grain of various wood fibers to determine the amount of space between them and the amount of moisture they held. These experiments on the cellular properties of wood fiber were vital in determining the types of wood best suited for paper pulp and lumber production, both booming industries in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1933 Grondal developed a number of experimental machines that exerted pressure on wood in different ways. These "beam smashers" would determine the amount of pressure (applied either directly or by giant "hammers") a wood beam could take before it splintered. He used these machines on every type of beam wood produced, including those used for bridge work and other major construction. This research created a broad fund of knowledge for the timber and construction industry.

During World War II, Prof. Grondal helped develop methods and machines for separating cork content from the bark of Douglas fir, thereby averting a cork shortage early in the war. Before the war, the United States was dependent on foreign sources for cork; Grondal's research enabled the development of a domestic cork industry through the use of Douglas fir bark that would otherwise have have been discarded. The introduction of resins and ammonia expanded the bark and created an excellent cork product. American cork was lighter and more resilient than the overseas product, and was used in life preservers and packing cases for medicine and other glass bottles.

In 1951 Grondal discoved and patented a new process for separating lignan and pulp components in wood using triethylene glycol (T.E.G). The new use of lignan, comprising almost 50% of all wood pulp and previously considered a waste product, enabled further expansion of the wood pulp industry. He also developed uses for wood chips.

Prof. Grondal was active in several professional organizations, including Associated Forest Products Technologists, the Cedar River Watershed Commission, and the Society of American Foresters. He won a prestigious membership in the Swedish Society of Foresters. He also served as an expert witness at court trials.

Grondal married Florence Armstrong in 1912. They had two children, Eloise and Bror Philip. She was an astronomer and photographer, and wrote a popular astronomy book, The Music of the Spheres: A Nature Lover's Astronomy , which was illustrated with her own photographs. The manuscript and proofs of this book are in the Florence Armstrong Grondal collection in the repository (accession number 044-1). In 1932, Mrs. Grondal attempted to catalog all the books that had been written by authors in the Pacific Northwest. She died in 1977.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection includes biographical materials from Prof. Grondal's scrapbook, as well as correspondence, organizational files, legal documents, photographs, reports, notes, and writings from his work as a professor of forestry at the University of Washington and as a consultant to the forest products industry. The collection also contains personal letters, Grondal family papers, manuscripts, and Swedish genealogical materials.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The creator's literary rights were not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged in series: Series I. Biographical Features. Series II. General Correspondence. Series III. Subject Series. Series IV. Case Files. Series V. Speeches and Writings. Series VI. Conventions. Series VII. Notes on Silviculture. Series VIII. Publications. Series IX. Grondal Family Papers.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Florence Armstrong Grondal, 1974.

Processing Note

Ten photographs by Ernst Skarstedt were relocated to the division's visual materials collections in 1982.

Related Materials

The University of Washington Libraries holds the Florence Armstrong Grondal Papers (Accession no. 044-1), which contains the manuscript and photographic plate proofs of her book The Music of the Spheres: A Nature Lover's Astronomy (1926).

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Biographical Features, n.d.Return to Top

Contains 2 reels of microfilm (1 positive, 1 negative) of Prof. Grondal's scrapbook; also includes scrapbook papers that were not included in the microfilm.

Container(s) Description Dates
Scrapbook microfilm
Filmed scrapbook includes photographs of field work, civil service identification, military registration number (1917), product development information and promotional materials for wood products such as laminated doors and Ceritgrade red cedar shingles, newspaper articles, and early published writings in such publications as Western Lumberman. Also filmed is the text of a 1913 Bulletin of the University of Washington written by Grondal, titled Composition and Durability of Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar.
Unfilmed scrapbook
Materials omitted from scrapbook filming. Includes registers of Grondal's salary by year and register of articles published by year, as well as correspondence from professional associates and manuscripts of delivered and/or published papers.

General Correspondence, 1945-1974Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/3-19

Alphabetical files of general incoming correspondence, both professional and personal. Major correspondents include: Everett Ellis (a colleague from the University of Idaho, 1952-1956), Moore Dry Kiln Company (1950-1954), and Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory, Seattle Office (includes reports on plywood testing in 1955, other test reports, and legal contracts). Grondal's friend Thomas R.L. "Tom" McGuire's interesting correspondence is included: McGuire and Grondal and their wives met and became friends after his retirement. McGuire was a retired forest ranger who was a native of Hawaii. He wrote poetry about Hawaii and essays in which he reminisced about his experience as a ranger on Oahu during World War II; some copies of his writings are in the file. Grondal attempted to sell one of McGuire's manuscripts to the Saturday Evening Post. Letters are from McGuire and his wife May. There is one draft of a letter addressed to McGuire from Brorand Florence Grondal. Their correspondence took place between 1961 and 1967.

Subject Series, 1945-1972Return to Top

Contains correspondence, plans, specifications, and studies regarding projects which Prof. Grondal conducted or companies for which he consulted.

Container(s) Description Dates
American Institute of Wood Engineering
Contains constitution, by-laws, membership information, and roster.
Crown Zellerbach Paper School
Contains correspondence regarding Prof. Grondal's lectures for the school.
Fire & Flame Proofing
Contains correspondence and product information received from Barnard Chemical Company, Los Angeles, regarding fireproofing for building products.
Forest Products Research Society
Prof. Grondal was a consultant for this organization. Contains correspondence.
Puget Sound Power and Light
Information, discussions, and meeting notes regarding strength and security of power poles.
University of Washington Retired Staff Members Association
Information for retirees from the University of Washington.
T.E.G. Process
Correspondence, reports, notes, clippings, and legal documents regarding the patent for the triethylene glycol process. Prof. Grondal and one of his students, Piotr Zenczak, were issued a patent for the process that used triethylene glycol as a pulping agent and solvent for lignan (a by-product of the paper industry). Correspondents include Research Corporation (New York).
University of Washington Dry Kiln
Contains correspondence, plans, specifications, and purchasing information for setting up the dry kiln at the University of Washington.
Xi Sigma Pi
Printed publications, constitution, and rosters for the Xi Sigma Pi National Forestry Honor Fraternity, founded at the University of Washington in 1908.

Case Files, 1953-1968Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 2/11-20

Transcripts, notes, and correspondence regarding court cases in which Prof. Grondal served as an expert witness.

Speeches and Writings, 1942-1965Return to Top

Notes, clippings, and research materials as well as typed manuscripts for speeches and articles.

Container(s) Description Dates
Notes for David Douglas article
Research materials about David Douglas (1799-1834), botanist for whom the Douglas fir is named. Douglas died mysteriously on the Big Island of Hawaii. The file contains transcribed sections from other books as well as newspaper articles and other notes.
ca. 1953
Articles and Manuscripts
Materials for studies, articles, and research. Contains article reprints, handwritten and typed manuscripts, letters to the editor, and notes. Topics include: fire retardants, the Cedar River watershed, free trade, veneer logs from Burma, Douglas fir cork, logging waste and pulp manufacture, paint blisters. Some manuscripts marked "Not for publication."

Conferences and Conventions, 1962-1972Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 2/23

Contains programs from Washington chemistry conferences (1971-1972) and the Tenth Pacific Science Conference (1962).

Silviculture, ca. 1912Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 2/24

Album-style notebook with lined pages, bound in cloth over cardboard and attached with cloth tape. Cover handwritten: "Bror L. Grondal Silviculture." Written manuscript, 83 pp., followed by typed lecture notes on "silviculture" (lecture by Carl Alwin Schenck), and studies on different trees handwritten by Grondal. This appears to be a course notebook: "Good" is written at the top of the first page in pencil. It is enscribed in the back: "B.L. Grondal Bethany [Kansas] '10, W.U [University of Washington] '12." Silviculture is the study of how forests thrive.

PublicationsReturn to Top

Contains editions of Forest Club Quarterly, Forest Club Annual, and University of Washington Engineering Experiment Station Bulletin.

Container(s) Description Dates
Forest Club Quarterly and Forest Club Annual
Forest Club Quarterly: Eleven items, including a leather bound edition of vol. 1, number 1, embossed "Bror L. Grondal." Dates range from 1922-1950 (incomplete set). Also includes Forest Club Annual, 1914.
University of Washington Engineering Experiment Station Bulletin
Four editions of this publication, including one written by Prof. Grondal (Nov., 1928).
University of Washington College of Forestry Publications
Includes conference proceedings (1947), research report (1956), and two bulletins promoting the college and its courses (1959-1963). Also includes two issues of Washington Forester (1950-1951).
University of Washington Bureau of Industrial Research
"Creosoted Wood Stave Pipe and Its Effect Upon Water for Domestic and Irrigation Use."
Miscellaneous Publications
Three editions of pamphlet: Short Keys to the Trees of Oregon and Washington by Hugo Winkenwerder. Two copies of book Better Douglas Fir Forests from Better Seed by Leo A. Isaac, one inscribed to Prof. Grondal from the author. A Primer of Forestry: Part I, the Forest (1909) by Gifford Pinchot.
The Daisy
Six annuals from Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kansas), Prof. Grondal's alma mater.
Society of Wood Science and Technology Log

Miscellany, 1933-1969Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/6

Meeting notes, reports, programs.

Grondal Family PapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Swedish Materials
Correspondence with the Swedish Information Service, family trees, and other genealogical materials. Portions of a manuscript detailing the history of various prominent Swedish Americans. Some materials in Swedish. Typeset and bound book Slakten Grondal, a family history from 1908, illustrated with photographs. Bethany College alumni correspondence. Clippings with wedding and other announcements.
Early Days of Photography
Historical materials dealing with the photography careers of Grondal's parents in Lindsborg, Kansas. Reminiscences, equipment lists, accounting register, advertisements, funeral program for Grondal's father.
Florence Armstrong Grondal
Newspaper clippings about Flory Grondal, wife of Bror. Also promotional materials for her book Music of the Spheres.
Music of the Spheres
Copy of book by Florence Armstrong Grondal.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • College teachers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Forest products industry--United States
  • Forest products--United States
  • Forestry consultants--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Forestry schools and education--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Forestry teachers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Forests and forestry--Research
  • Swedish Americans--Kansas
  • Swedish Americans--Washington (State)

Personal Names

  • Ellis, Everett L. (Everett Lincoln), 1919-
  • Grondal, B. G.  (Bror Gustaf)
  • Grondal, Bror Leonard, 1889-1974--Archives
  • Grondal, Florence Armstrong
  • Isaac, Leo A. (Leo Anthony), 1892-1970
  • McGuire, Thomas R. L
  • Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946
  • Schenck, Carl Alwin, 1868-1955
  • Schmitz, Henry, 1892-1965
  • Skarstedt, Ernst, 1857-1929
  • Winkenwerder, Hugo B., 1878-

Corporate Names

  • Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kan.)
  • Crown Zellerbach Paper School
  • Forest Products Research Society
  • Moore Dry Kiln Company
  • Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory. Seattle Office
  • Red Cedar Shingle Bureau
  • Society of American Foresters
  • Society of Wood Science and Technology (U.S.)
  • University of Washington. College of Forestry
  • University of Washington. Retired Staff Members Association

Family Names

  • Foye family
  • Grondal family

Geographical Names

  • Lindsborg (Kan.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Microfilm
  • Photographs

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • University of Washington. University Archives

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • University Archives/Faculty Papers (University of Washington)